The Mind is A Curious Beast

What drives you to do the things you do? What makes you have those firm beliefs? Why do you fall short of your goal or reach it and then lose it again?

The Mind is a curious beast ~ our brains serve us according to what we have learnt, what we have done repeatedly becomes a habit.

We don’t have to follow the mindset of the past, the secret is in finding someone to help you unlock the mind, delve into it and reorganise the thought processes that may not be serving you the best in life. We need to get in there and dig out the rubbish and reprogram what is left.

Recently I visited a Hypnotherapist for weight loss ~ I soon learned that the term “weight loss” is a negative thought process. Instead we have to imagine ourselves releasing the excess which is no longer required and so use the term “weight release” instead. Immediately in saying that I need to release some weight I have a more positive attitude towards the process.

The trick is to understand my body, my mind and my stomach. To understand the sensation and recognise the signals which tell me when I feel truly hungry. To only eat when my stomach tells me to.  To ensure I stay hydrated by drinking water and not to eat Just becuase it’s breakfast / lunch / tea time.

So, instead of eating at regular meal times I am eating when I feel hungry. Sometimes that may not be until mid afternoon ~ and when I do eat I make sure it is something healthy and fresh and stop when I am full. As I am still learning I often give myself too much food and end up saving what is left for the next meal.

By doing this I have released a stone so far and my new jeans are falling down! I now have decided to stop weighing myself and using my clothes to show me the progress I am making.

My yo~yoing of weight going down ~ feeling happy, going up feeling lousy has been a cycle for too many years.  The help from my hypnotherapist and mind coach is learning to understand why I got caught up in these patterns of behaviour and how to turn things around and wind up that yo~yo.

I have never had mind coaching, plenty of therapy including CBT but not mind coaching.

If like me you don’t quite know what this is then I’ll help you out by quoting the definition taken from my therapists website..

Mind Coaching is the application of neural techniques to help change your subconscious mind towards what you wish to achieve. The use of NLP, Hypnosis and other therapies can guide your mind towards your attainment of life goals in a more focused and speedy manner, allowing you to get to your goals much faster than through normal routes.

I have only had two sessions so far, in the initial appointment we discussed my goals, what I wanted to change and why, after some advice regarding my journey ahead I had my virtual gastric band fitted. I remember immediately after waking from hypnosis how tired I felt and also how calm my mind was.

I followed instructions on how to care from my new gastric band and found it was very easy to adapt because I could imagine my stomach and how to decide if I was truly hungry or whether I just wanted to eat because of the habit of holding on to meal times. I also have found I adore fruit infused water ~ my water jug is regularly topped up and has orange, lemon and lime slices floating around in it which makes the water slightly sweet and tangy ~ as well as very refreshing.

My second appointment referred back to what we had discussed in the first appointment along with some new light bulb moments and exercises to help me move forward with my transformation.

I have four areas to work on right now and they are.

1. Positive Self Talk

This is something I need to work on.  If you think of your subconscious mind being your inner child ~ you need to teach it what you want it to support and how you want it to behave. My inner child wants to protect me and make me happy but sometimes this can mean it directs me towards the fridge to find solace and comfort in chocolate and bread instead of exercise and the fruit bowl.

I need to learn to really honestly no holds barred love myself and mean it! I discovered during this session that I am a “avoider” I avoid looking in the mirror ~ which is why I got myself a dinky compact one to look at myself in for my affirmations instead of using my larger dressing table mirror. So my first task is to practice the mirror exercise to really look myself in the eye, acknowledge my full reflection and talk to myself ~ to teach my inner child that I love myself, I love my body and what it does for me, that I think that I am beautiful, that I am slim and healthy and that I am capable and strong. I has to be in the present tense so that my inner child, the subconscious me, can learn these new thoughts and if repeated daily for twenty~one days it should then become fact. in both my subconscious and conscious minds.

My mirrors around the hose will soon be covered with large post it notes with my positive affirmations on to remind me frequently that I do love myself and to look myself in the eyes at every opportunity and talk through my reflection to my inner child.

2. Motivational Strategy

I need to focus on what my health goals are and to take stock of them regularly ~ this will take my health issues in my previous blog into consideration. By actively bringing together in harmony my physical and mental self.

For me the benefits for making changes are that I am being proactive in optimising holistically my health ~ bringing both body and mind together to progress to a healthier, happier, more confident me. I feel energised and focused, happier for having a path to follow that is positive and hopeful for physically and mentally finding myself in a much better place than when I started. The knock on effect affects my husband and daughters who will be seeing a better version of me, a stronger, more confident me.

3. Mental Imagery

I am hopeless at mentally picturing something ~ no matter how hard I try. I think sometimes you can try too hard and need to take a step back and question why you are having difficulty. For me it is because the idea of seeing, for example a reflection of myself, brings back memories of criticism and angst about the size and shape of myself. My inner child tries to help by switching off that part of my mind and I have am working on switching it back on.

I have a mortal  fear of being seen in a swimsuit ~ aside from all the grooming entailed to cut back the swatches of  hair swathing my body. I am going to write myself a guided imagery of myself going to hydrotherapy, of getting into my costume, walking out to the poolside, dropping the towel, getting in the pool and the sensation around that ~ to get full imagery I need to include all the senses, to bring them into my story. To go through from arriving to leaving and including everything between. Initially I shall read it to myself and eventually know it by heart to recite to myself daily so that when I do actually have my hydrotherapy sessions my fear will be gone and I will strut in there all confident and sassy, showing of my tush to all who can see it!

4. Mindfullness

Another practice I am working on and if I had a report card it would be “could do better”.

I need to stop going back to what is in the past, what is done is done, I can’t change what has been.

I must not worry about the future as it isn’t here yet.

I must live in the “now” and stop mentally time travelling backwards and forwards in my head stressing about things that are either done or may never be.

I need to focus on now, the present moment. To centre and ground myself to prevent my inner child, my subconscious, from trying to help me and slip me on auto pilot, without conscious awareness.

With regards to releasing my weight I need to wait to practice listening to my stomach and eating only when I am really hungry. I need to drink plenty of water and stay hydrated. I must not focus on the failures of the past to releasing weight only to regain it. I must not worry about the future of pre~empting failure and giving up my good intentions by allowing my inner child to switch me onto autopilot and comfort eat.

When I eat I will eat healthy appetising foods. I will not pile my plate high but have a moderate portion. I will focus on my food and not other surrounding distractions such as the radio or television. I will take small mouthfuls and eat slowly, not shoving it down bite after bite ~ I will allow my taste buds to truly taste, savour and enjoy every morsel. I will allow my stomach to receive it and digest it. I will stop when I am full and avoid that awful stuffed, heavy sensation of eating too much.

My therapist is helping me to make real changes which will be longstanding ~ by looking at how I behave, why I behave that way and how to change my behaviour to help me maximise my potential and succeed where in the past I failed.

Fate perhaps put that random link to Hypnassist in front of my eyes at a time when I was ready to make the changes. Whatever the reason, I am very happy I found them and am working hard to embed the new instructions into my subconscious mind ~ my inner child.

Life isn’t perfect, we’re not perfect but we are all individual, unique and worthy of loving and being loved. My husband has now started on his own journey with the same therapist and already is feeling the benefits of his first session. The mind is a fabulous muscle that needs training and keeping in shape ~ we are on our way to doing this properly with guidance and feel exceptionally positive about our future.

I know I have quoted many a time before ~ but as the great Ru Paul says..

“If you don’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?”

x~X~x

After The Rain Has Gone

I love this metaphor I found on the interweb regarding changes in your life, it was written by  Tom Southern  who is a Copywriter, Blogging Coach and Writer..

“It’s like a river that’s flowed along peacefully for many years. Then suddenly, it rains heavily for 10 days and turns the river into a raging torrent, sweeping all away in its path. When the rain finally stops and the flood subsides, the old growth has gone and there’s a lot of new fertile land waiting to be farmed.” 

I can relate to that regarding my health, I cruised along quite happily for a long time. Then it bottomed out much to my horror. I have seen numerous medical professionals who gave a diagnosis but with no real forward plan, with the exception of the ME Clinic who helped me understand my illness and put me through a 12 week group programme with a Physiotherapist and Occupational Therapist. After that I have always been referred back to my GP for ongoing support to treat symptoms as they arise.

That was until I met a fabulous Rheumatologist, who spent a long time both physically examining me and talking to me ~ a one hour appointment ran to a two hour appointment (apologies for those patients after me who had to wait an extra hour to be seen). After she had finished quizzing and examining me she came up with not only a diagnosis but also a plan.

So she diagnosed me with Fibromyalgia, Bilateral Achilles Tendinitis and Bilateral Trochanteric Bursitis. It was also made clear that this diagnosis is as well as, and not instead of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, Depression and Diverticulitis.

The plan for me going forward, is mostly via a physiotherapist who I have been referred to, awaiting appointment. The treatments are specifically for local ultrasound treatment for the Achilles Tendinitis and Trochanteric Bursitis. Then to progress to be given specific stretching exercises for my hamstrings, Achilles Tendinitis and Trochanteric Bursitis. To have a graded exercise regime programme created, taking into consideration the effects it may have on my ME and so to start low and slow and increase in a way to not exacerbate a ME relapse. This regime is to include my quadriceps and core muscles to strengthen them. I am also to have hydrotherapy running alongside the above as an extra measure.

Once I have been through all the physiotherapy I am to then have one to one Pilates instruction to create a programme of exercise that will support my ongoing health plan but not exacerbate my health conditions. I have been told not to join a group class as I need to discuss and be taught specific exercises to suit me personally as many of the exercises taught to healthy people in a group class setting could potentially cause my body harm.

I have also been told my arches have fallen, sounds a bit dramatic, but my feet are almost flat down onto the floor. I have been instructed to throw away my beloved flip flops and am no longer allowed to wander wild and free barefoot around my home and garden. Instead I have to wear arch supporting trainers (attractive much). I have bought some arch supporting insoles for my Doc Martins though as no way am I getting rid of them!

I discussed with her my weight issue with her and she was very supportive of my mind coaching and hypnotherapy route towards reducing this.  In fact so much so that she asked for, and I gave, the name of my hypnotherapist, as she knew some of her patients would be interested in it.

The Rheumatologist concluded that she would discharge me from her care and onto my GP and the Physiotherapist to action her plan. However, she has said she will see me at any time in the future if my GP feels it necessary.

I feel as if I have been through the rain and raging torrent and am currently in the position where the rain has stopped and the flood is subsiding. I feel that when I start the physiotherapy I will fully be farming the fertile land. At the moment I am just trimming the edges and making a start with the mind coaching, hypnosis and weight loss.

So, my journey is just beginning. Who knows what the future will bring ~ hopefully a well maintained fertile landscape with a beautiful clear rainbow to boot!

Johnny Nash   I Can See Clearly Now ~ Lyrics

I can see clearly now the rain is gone
I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It’s gonna be a bright (bright)
Bright (bright) sunshiny day
It’s gonna be a bright (bright)
Bright (bright) sunshiny day
Oh, yes I can make it now the pain is gone
All of the bad feelings have disappeared
Here is that rainbow I’ve been praying for
It’s gonna be a bright (bright)
Bright (bright) sunshiny day
Look all around, there’s nothing but blue skies
Look straight ahead, there’s nothing but blue skies
I can see clearly now the rain is gone
I can see all obstacles in my way
Here is that rainbow I’ve been praying for
It’s gonna be a bright (bright)
Bright (bright) sunshiny day
It’s gonna be a bright (bright)
Bright (bright) sunshiny day
Bright (bright), bright (bright)
Bright sunshiny day
It’s going to be a bright (bright)
Bright (bright) sunshiny day
It’s gonna be a bright (bright)
Bright (bright) sunshiny day
It’s gonna be a bright (bright)
Bright (bright) sunshiny day

Songwriters: KENNETH GAMBLE,LEON HUFF
© Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC,Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

x~X~x

Neighbours & Dogs

Question to my fellow dog owners ~ do your dogs bark?
Do any of you own dogs that don’t bark?

I am just curious because we have two terriers, they bark. They bark when they play, they bark when asking for their dinner, they bark at the post/delivery men and the window cleaner.

IMG_2580
Our dogs Taylor & Loki playing in our garden

They don’t bark at night ~ as they are in our bedroom fast asleep with us. They don’t bark for prolonged periods, especially outside as we are very conscious of our neighbours enjoying time in their gardens. Mostly we spend time outside with them but in the evenings, when we want to relax we close the gate onto the large lawn area and the dogs are confined to the patio & decking area which is close to the house.

We have lived in our home for 13 years, owned dogs for the past 8 years and not once had any issues with our neighbours. In fact we are all on good terms and help each other out as/when needed.

This was until last year ~ a new neighbour moved into one of the houses at the back of ours. Our houses aren’t close as both of our garden lawn areas are between us.

However, one afternoon I was relaxing in our garden and the dogs were playing and chasing one another. I saw our neighbour in her garden and thought nothing of it. Although she keep peering at us from her lawn area.

Later that evening we let the dogs out into the garden before going to bed ~ we always say “bedtime” to them and they jump (usually off our laps) and have a little brief bark as they run outside to do their business they then come inside and go upstairs to our bedroom. It’s a ritual we have and if the patio doors are already open our older terrier, Taylor will often potter outside, do his business and take himself to bed. Our dogs love their sleep.

It was winter and dark, so I stood by the patio door ready to close it as soon as the dogs came back inside.

This one day last year as I stood by the patio doors watching our dogs do their business a raging woman appeared shouting at me from our garden boundaries. I went over to her wondering what on earth was the matter and in hindsight wish I hadn’t bothered.

This woman was raging at me using every swear word possible, calling me an irresponsible dog owner, that I shouldn’t be allowed to keep dogs and that she had complained to the council about nuisance noise from our dogs. That she had moved to Derby from London and although surrounded by dogs there she never heard them bark and that she didn’t like living in Derby.

To be honest I was more than a little shell~shocked by the abuse and I didn’t say anything, just turned around and went back indoors leaving her ranting. I was feeling more than a little shaken by the venom and force in this woman’s tone. What a way to meet your new neighbour!

We are always mindful of noise as one of our neighbours have two young boys who go to bed early and their mother often works nights, so we are also mindful during the day of the dogs barking.

Inside the house, yes, they bark. They often lie on our windowsill at the front of the house. They lie on a big soft Hippo, which is on our windowsill and they use it as a bed. From this bed on the windowsill in our lounge they watch people come and go ~ they hate cats and so if one goes by they bark. From this vantage point they also see other things such as a dog walker collecting next doors dog, foxes (on rare occasions), delivery men etc ~ this causes some barking but it’s contained and there is no way that it could be heard by the one neighbour who lives furthest from us ~ our London neighbour.

The following day Dave took me with him to visit this woman, he demanded she apologise to me for her verbal attack. She did. She then went on that her husband works long hours and goes to bed early, that our dogs barking was keeping him awake. Flummoxed we told her we controlled our dogs and that there are many dogs surrounding our houses, including one next door to her, their garden also backs onto ours ~ so why did she think it was just our dogs?

We called a truce ~ we said that at 6.30pm every evening we would close the gate onto the lawn and not open it until 9am the next morning. That way any barking would be far away from their house. We felt that was very reasonable on our part.

So, we heard nothing for a while then weirdly only a few months ago they pulled everything from their boundary line between our gardens leaving a large gap, a fence panel width, so that they can now see all the way down our garden, patio and into our kitchen and dining room.

A week after the boundary clearing I was outside in the garden with my camera and the dogs ~ the dogs were lying in the shade as it was a hot day. This London woman told me that once again she had reported us to the council for nuisance barking and she had had enough of us.

I apologised for any barking but maintained it was not our dogs barking late at night and in the early hours. She all but called me a liar but changed her tune when Dave, who saw her talking to me, came over. She told us many tales about her numerous health issues and then conversation moved onto the fence panel which needed replacing as we had not got one up and she wanted to put one in. She acknowledged that the panel was for the fence was on her side, the rest was intact, just this one piece was missing. She asked if we knew anyone who would do it for her and I said I’d give her a name and number. We then spoke about where the fence would be fixed and that, we thought was that.

As promised I dropped a card round for her the very next day, with the name and telephone number of a local handyman for them. I also included both mine and Daves mobile numbers as well as our address (as they stated they couldn’t work out which was our house). So that if they felt there was any nuisance barking going on they could contact us and we would inform them if it was our dogs or not.

A few days later I saw them and they said they weren’t going to put the fence panel up as it was too expensive.

I don’t like this invasion of our privacy, that this woman can spy on us across our garden and into our home. We have now sourced a fence panel ourselves and will be putting it up this week to block their view into our garden.

Regarding the dog barking we heard nothing from them after dropping off the card. Plus we kept our word regarding the lawn curfew for the dogs and are always mindful of their barking.

It has reached the point where I am suffering emotionally with stress every time they bark, worrying if yet another complaint would be made and I keep seeing this woman looking into our garden. It’s almost as if she’s wanting a further confrontation with me and I really don’t like her peeking as I feel it’s an invasion of privacy.

Fast forward to a week ago when I received a phone call from our London neighbour. She waded right in without any kind of pleasantries ~ she has had enough of our dogs, she said she was going to the council offices the next day to complain yet again. She also said I must have gone round to intimidate each of our other neighbours to frighten them into not complaining! I was dumbfounded. First, how rude and secondly why had she not contacted us any time before when the alleged nuisance barking was going on ~ so I just said okay then and hung up.

I then allowed myself to cool down and sent her a text (proof read by Dave and the girls). Previously I had no number for her ~ but as she had rung me from her mobile her number was visible on my phone. It was stored as a “recent” call which meant I could save her number as a new contact.

At no point had either her or her husband given us their names, hence us calling her London neighbour. Also we had no telephone numbers from them given in return, they just had ours.

In my text to her I asked why had she not contacted us sooner when these barking episodes occurred? We could then have told her if it was our dogs or not and that we had held up our part of the bargain. We have numerous dogs surrounding both our homes, what made her think that every bark was one of our dogs?

She did not respond.

On Saturday morning we received this letter from our local Council..
p1p2None of the factors (on p2) regarding nuisance barking applies to us.

I checked up on the councils website and it clearly states;  “You should always try and solve the problem by talking to your neighbour or through mediation before contacting the council.” Clearly we have tried to respond to her but she has not discussed it calmly with us or used any mediation.

Concerned we visited all of our neighbours both beside us and backing on to us, which are the houses flanking London neighbours home. We wanted to see if they felt we had dogs who were a nuisance due to barking, specifically in the evenings through to the morning.

We had a chuckle with some of them regarding the accusation of intimidation as we are  on friendly terms with all of our other neighbours. One of our closest neighbours who is apparently intimidated by me is weapons trained in the police force, so I must be awesome to intimidate him.

Our neighbours have been awesome and are supporting us, saying to let the council know they can visit them any time and they would support us in our innocence to this claim. Yes, they can hear the dogs in the garden during the day barking as they play, this is fine. The dogs don’t bark during antisocial hours and it is just dogs being dogs. They did say Taylors dog is rather shrill ~ which it is, so that can grate a little, but only briefly and it’s not very often. No more bothersome than say children playing in their garden.

It would seem she is only aggressive towards me and waits until she sees me alone to launch her attack. She chose to ring my mobile not Daves ~ which I had said in my card was the best number to ring as I often don’t have my phone on me. She seems to back down in front of Dave.

Our plan, now we know we have all our neighbours standing up for us and highly bemused by the accusations made towards us, is to ask the council to send someone to our home. We can then show them the proximity of our house to London neighbours. To say they are free to visit all of our other neighbours to seek their opinion on us and our dogs. That we have been beyond reasonable and accommodating to this woman (her husband never says anything or get involved weirdly). That we would like these accusations and harassment stop.

I’m a pacifist, I loathe confrontation and try to accommodate and do my utmost to be considerate to others. It seems no matter what I do this woman has it in for me and our dogs. According to her it is only our dogs that bark ~ which is completely wrong.

So, my dog loving friends, what would you do in this situation?

To those who don’t like dogs, how do you feel about this, is it something you find irritating but dogs are dogs and need to play or would you complain?

I’ll update once we have chatted to the council. It’s horrid feeling watched and persecuted by this woman, especially when we have been friendly and offered up every avenue for her to contact us at anytime. I will feel less anxious once the fence panel is in place and she can no longer look into our garden and patio.

The sounds around us and from us aren’t a nuisance, just people, their children and pets living their lives.

So for now I will try not to feel so anxious by breathing and meditating. The fence panel will soon be up so I will have some privacy, I won’t have to see her and she won’t be able to see me.

I am open to discussion in the comments under this blog from both dog owners/lovers and from people who don’t love dogs or who find them a nuisance. Have you been in this situation? What did you do to stop it from escalating? How did you manage to discuss the issue with someone who is fixated on blaming just the one party? How can you stand up for yourself when she won’t talk to us and waits until she’s ready to explode and complain to the council?

Maybe we can’t make peace ~ perhaps we can at least make some kind of headway though and get her to acknowledge the other dog owners and that they bark. Dogs all bark at some time or other after all.

x~X~x

Minty Fresh

Don’t you just love it when you forget you have ordered something and when it arrives you can enjoy the thrill of unwrapping it to discover what it is?

Today a small brown cardboard box was delivered to our house and it was addressed to me. Completely confused and wondering what on earth it could be I opened it.

Inside the package was a cute box containing toothpaste, not your standard run of the mill toothpaste, oh no ~ it was a special allergy free toothpaste in a glass jar with a spatula to transfer the paste onto the brush.

Now due to my multiple allergies I have been searching far and wide for a “safe” toothpaste. Normal toothpaste causes spots around my mouth, dermatitis around my lips and it burns the skin inside my lips plus my tongue ~ so not too attractive.

I had high hopes for the toothy tabs from Lush but unfortunately after a few days I had a rather uncomfortable reaction to them. Lush were fantastic and refunded me for them, however the refund was a voucher so my first born daughter used it to get a shampoo bar for herself as I can’t have any of their products now.

Then, quite by accident, whilst scrolling through Twitter I came upon Georganics, clicking on the link I found their website and specifically found their toothpaste range. I chose the English peppermint flavour, as I’m not a spearmint kinda gal.

The peppermint essential oil which added to my choice of paste, is allegedly effective in killing anaerobic bacteria. So it protects against gum disease plus it is also fluoride free (debatable subject I know), SLS free (SLS = Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, this is the chemical used in toothpaste to create the foaming action. It can cause or irritate existing allergies, canker sores and bad breath, so this is why it is important for me to find SLS free toothpaste) and it’s glycerin free too, (glycerin can coat your teeth and prevent them from bathing in saliva, which is your bodys natural protection against cavities. Saliva helps neutralise acids in your mouth and can help carry minerals).

If you are like me and need to always be checking ingredients, the peppermint paste contains;

Calcium Carbonate#

Caprylic & Capric Triglyceride#

Kaolin#

Cocos Nucifera Oil*#

Butyrospermum Parkii Butter*#

Diatomaceous Earth*#

Sodium Bicarbonate#

Mentha Arvensis Herb Oil*#

Melaleuca Alternifolia Leaf Oil*#

Citrus Limon Peel Oil*#

Tocopherol#

Ocimum Basilicum Oil*#

* = Organic Soil Association # = Food Grade

Thankfully all the above are “safe” for me, which is fantastic ~ at last I have found something!

I’ve not used a non~foaming toothpaste before so tonight’s brushing of teeth will be a new experience. As it’s a first I will take heed of the “directions for use” which I usually ignore, as I like to do things my way and don’t like following rules. The instructions are pretty simple though; “Use your Georganics spatula to scoop a pea-sized amount onto a soft/medium toothbrush. Brush as usual for 2 minutes, leave longer for extra remineralization. Make sure no water enters the jar to avoid bacteria growth. Once the jar is opened store in a warm, dry place for up to 12 months.”

To make me feel even better about my purchase the cute box it came in is made from compostable craft paper with vegetable ink. The paste is packaged in a glass container and comes with a cute bamboo spatula. Then, being environmentally friendly it is PETA cruelty free plus it’s also vegan certified.

My purchase is fabulously plastic free, it has zero waste packaging and everything is either recyclable or biodegradable.

I’ll let you know in a week or so how I get on with it ~ crossing fingers I don’t react to this too.

Recently my health has taken a downward spiral, I seem to be reacting to almost everything. On top of that I am having to use my crutches to get around both outside and in the home. My hips and ankles are very painful and I am hoping my referral to address the bursitis and Achilles issues will come through sooner rather than later.

My husband remarked today how much I had changed for the worse over the past few weeks and we both are hanging a lot of hope on the various physio therapies I have been referred to.

So far no news from DWP regarding my PIP claim. I have read so many posts about how very few people are awarded it without going through the appeal process ~ which has made me feel anxious, knowing there is no guarantee that I will be awarded it even after a appeal.

I am focusing on positives though, I have a good physio plan which will span over a year or more. While I’m waiting for that I’m not to do any specific exercise and Tae Chi is off limits, as I may inadvertently cause further damage.

Dave has been fabulous, he’s my carer and best friend, he is always looking out for me. He has been understanding of my conditions to the extent of helping me fill in forms, accompanying me to medical appointments and taking over cooking and shopping. So all in all I am exceptionally lucky, something I remind myself when I’m feeling sorry for myself.

On Monday we go back to the hypnotherapist. This time Dave will have a session fitting a gastric band and then after a break (for the hypnotherapist to have some lunch), I will have my follow up session.

Since my virtual gastric band I have lost a stone and my clothes are noticeably looser on me. I have been told to throw away the scales and so from now on will know how my weight loss is going by how my clothes fit me. I am happy around food and feel my approach to it now is a healthy one.

Last night Dave took me to a restaurant where they had a section on the menu for “mini meals” which I’d not come across before. When I eat out I enjoy 3 courses, but inevitably leave some of the starter and main as it’s too much food ~ pudding is always one serving with 2 spoons as we always share it. This pub cannily had a mini meal section to cater for folk like me. So I enjoyed a light starter, followed by a mini meal ~ I suppose it’s equal to a child’s portion, and my pud, with 2 spoons. It turned out cheaper, no wasted food and we were satiated but not stuffed. I think all food establishments should offer this option, just have a description of the meal and two prices, one for full and the other for mini portions.

Throwing out a question to my fellow spoonies, what do you do when your body is on a downward spiral to halt it and turn things around? I’m trying to be positive but part of me is frightened by how weak I seem to be becoming. I walk around the house holding on to furniture to get about, reminding me of the children as toddlers, cruising the furniture as they were learning to walk.

I believe that my health will improve in time, it’s just whether it will decline further before that happens. I have seen others improve and so firmly focus on that when self pity threatens to take hold.

Perhaps I should add a affirmation to focus on better health along with my others for weight loss and confidence. So for now I will continue to harness positive vibes and wait for them to kick in and boost a upward turn.

x~X~x

Reunion

My eldest offspring, Keisha, has been away in Jamaica for 6 weeks working with Projects Abroad. During her time there she grew in so many ways. The journey was gruelling, her outward journey was Heathrow to Jamaica via New York ~ only her New York to Jamaica connecting flight was cancelled, leaving her stranded several hours until one was scheduled to replace it. As it was her first ever solo adventure and a major journey she coped incredibly well ~ although didn’t dare sleep between her flights and so was more than tired on arrival in Jamaica.

Once in Jamaica she was taken to meet her host family and shown around the office where the Projects Abroad in Jamaica is based. Almost from day one she was on her own and working in different areas, including visiting schools to give talks and advice on what to do in various emergencies such as hurricane or fire.

During her time there the area was suffering a drought which meant major water conservation which impacted everyone in all their day to day duties. The toilet was flushed via a bucket of water and due to the drought the old phrase “If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down” explains the situation. No hot running water, so cold showers and dishes were washed in just one sink of water and rinsed in another, no changing water as it dirtied.

During the week she worked hard, weekday evenings were spent in a local bar with her co~workers along with locals who had befriended her. To be respectful to the host families there was a curfew, 10.30 weeknights, and 11.30 weekends. The curfew didn’t bother Keisha on the weekends as they were  spent travelling, exploring and discovering the true Jamaica.

Her local friends took her on tours, different from the version you get on the tourist booked ones. She swam, a lot, she discovered and she engaged in making the most of every opportunity and experience. Her first weekend was in Montego Bay, she was taken to a music festival the Reggae Sumfest where she heard among others, Bob Marley’s son Damian play. She was taken on a boat tour of Black River, it’s a miracle she wasn’t eaten by crocodiles as at one point she was told that she could swim in a “safe part” of the river. When she arrived back with her host family they were dumbfounded, there is no “safe part” of Black River and Keisha did say within minutes of being back in the boat a crocodile passed them by.

I can’t quite remember all the other places visited but she surfed (and briefly stayed on the board), swam in various locations, jumped into natural pools and generally sampled as much of Jamaica as was possible within the time she was there.

In amongst all of the above she worked collecting data for her dissertation about disaster management. She would then embark on the task of sifting through all the information and recordings when she returns to Uni in a few weeks. She fully organised focus groups, encouraged locals to complete questionnaires and interviewed top people regarding disaster management in the area.

It’s fair to say she was busy from dusk to dawn, taking in the culture and being fortunate enough to be able to live and breathe the authentic view of Jamaica that holiday makers don’t see.

Her host mother taught her about the local cuisine and how to cook it, which Keisha found fascinating.  By living within the local community and with a family she saw first hand the very real struggle to make ends meet as the wages are poor and the cost of living is high.

Medical facilities, education, lack of jobs and all areas within the community in general were lacking funding and organisation, which meant local residents were doing their best to make the most of what they had. Despite everything Keisha found that they were friendly and hospitable not just to her but the other volunteers. The Jamaican people lived the best they could within their means and maintained a happy life approaching each day as it happened.

One large part of Jamaican culture is that they live by “Jamaican Time” meaning that they would never be on time at a fixed appointment and Keisha soon learned to say I’ll meet you in the morning, or in the afternoon ~ then be ready to sit and wait until they arrived at some point within the morning or afternoon.

Taxi’s were lairy ~ they didn’t leave until they were full, which means they had at least 7 passengers. People would sit on others knees and Keisha, being skinny, always was perched on the arm rest part of the car between the front two seats, facing towards the rear view  and her fellow back seat passengers. Keisha very quickly was given the nickname “Maga” which apparently means skinny in Patois.

After the 6 weeks Keisha had developed a good ear to understand the Jamaican Patois, which at first had seemed alien to her. When she had to say goodbye to people who had initially been strangers and who had become good friends she was torn. Torn between seeing her family again and leaving a country and community she had grown to love. It was an emotional parting for her and she hopes to return again with her sister/s to show them the Jamaica she knew.

The homeward journey was long, this time she flew from Jamaica to Atlanta, had a 7 hour wait before getting her connecting flight to Heathrow.

Myself and Dave were up early and were at Heathrow just before 9am, eagerly waiting to see our girl again. The anticipation was immense, we had made a sign to hold up to greet her with. People were coming out but no sign of Keisha, we waited, concern growing, then my phone rang, it was Keisha. It turned out that 1 of her bags had gone missing! After a few moments my phone rang again, her bag had been located, it had been put on a plane which left only a few hours after her plane had left and was coming to Heathrow.

After a short discussion we decided to hang about and wait for the bag as it contained all Keisha’s data for her dissertation, her iPad and laptop. However, Keisha had seen enough of the inside of airports by this time so we left and found a vegan cafe in Uxbridge. Coffee for myself and Dave and something delicious for Keisha, I think it was Thai but can’t be sure but it was scrummy according to Keisha.

Once Keisha had eaten we returned to Heathrow, she collected her bag and finally we were on our way home. Entering our house Keisha was bombarded by the dogs and reunited with Tasha (second born) who had prepared a feast to celebrate Keisha’s return. Tara (third born) was in Ibiza, so would be reunited in a few days time.

Keisha had been out and purchased gifts for us all and hand on heart I LOVE mine! A cap with bottle opener in the rim, a Bob Marley Tee, a 60% proof rum (which I shall consume watered down by pineapple juice) and finally a weed smoking Jamaican fridge magnet.

It’s so good having my first~born back but she’s not had a single moment to herself for 6 weeks, so I can’t keep hold of her. Craving some solitude to unwind, unpack and rest we took her back to her flat with some groceries to tide her over to do just that. Soon it will be back to the grind of Uni and work for her, so it’s good to know she can rest a little before all that starts.

No matter how old my girls are they will always be my babies, I love to support them and encourage them as they flourish and spread their wings. Though I also admit to enjoy having them home around me too, so I can mother them a little.

x~X~x

 

A Day In Windsor

It’s amazing how little of the UK I have actually seen, something I aim to rectify in forthcoming years. Now we haven’t got our Filey bolt hole Dave is taking me away on mini breaks within the UK, slowly crossing off our “places to visit” list. This time we visited Windsor, somewhere I have been close to on many occasions but not ventured into.

Holiday Express hotels are our go to for booking accommodation, as for the most part they are in the town centre or close to it. Whenever a Holiday Express isn’t available we like to use a B&B instead. Fortunately Windsor had a Holiday Express just in the right location, so we booked a room with them.

Day 1 we were knackered, so took pleasure in a big comfy bed, dinner of 3 starters between us along with wine and a film.

Day 2; in the morning we woke up, briefly toyed with the idea of breakfast before the plump pillows and warm duvet won us over. Later armed with sensible shoes, various supports, crutches (my rheumatologist would be approving) and camera around my neck we left the hotel. First on the agenda was coffee and breakfast, taxi hailed we found ourselves a Weatherspoons where breakfast was devoured and coffee blissfully consumed, I can recommend the mushroom benedict.

Suitably replete we sauntered outside and tried to get our bearings. A sign to the tourist information pointed us towards a building only a few steps away. We checked out “things to do” and decided upon a bus then boat tour, that way I get to see all the sights without having to do anything other than look, listen and absorb.

The bus had a open top and the stairs were managable as they had handrails for me to hoist myself up with. The seats were rather compact so we took up 2 seats each so we could sit more comfortably, Dave was behind me and we both sat on the far side so we could get the best view possible. We were accompanied only by two other people on the top deck and they had the same idea, spacing themselves out too.  When we got onto the bus we were handed a packet of red, white & blue earphones. In front of each seat was a port to plug in the earphones and listen to a tour commentary. The tour took about one and a quarter hour, it was fantastic as the weather was lovely, the seat was comfy, a breeze blew my hair gently, the commentary was clear and the view was great.

Here are some photos from the bus tour..

After the bus tour we had a slow wander about before taking the boat tour. Initially I had wanted the duck tour but they were sold out ~ after seeing the buses used for these tours I’m glad we didn’t go on it as it looked very uncomfortable.

There were other boat tours and we booked both bus and boat tours together which gave us a discount of £5. There were two options, a 2 hour or a 40 minute tour, we took the shorter one which took us up and down the Thames past the race course and some plush houses. Unlike the duck tour this boat served drinks during our boat trip and we were served wine and beer, which was lovely. To be honest I didn’t absorb much of the tour commentary as I was too busy enjoying the view, drinking my wine and snapping a photo or too. Here are a few of them..

Once on dry land we enjoyed passing time people watching before slowly making our way back to the town centre and restaurants. Dave fancied a American Barbeque Restaurant where we enjoyed various meats, chips and slaw. Obviously I had dessert and generously shared it with Dave, it didn’t look much but was dense and delicious ~it was  Oreo and salted caramel cheesecake, just in case you were curious.

We lingered over dinner, taking our time and listening to the chatter of other diners. There were several different languages being spoken, we noticed how it was like different instruments in a orchestra, each language having a different pitch and flow.

After dinner, a short stroll took us to a beautiful pub with flowers abundantly covering the outside areas which were over three levels.

Finally, exhausted after a day of absorbing the world around me I needed to take off my bra and shoes and put my feet up ~ so we hailed a taxi back to the hotel.

Day 3; the journey home.

Looking back at my brief but comprehensive tour of Windsor two things struck me. First was how enormous old Queenies yard is ~I mean it’s not just big it’s HUGE, I hadn’t realised quite how big it was, seriously who needs to have a place that big? Secondly, and this upset me so much, the number of homeless in such a small area. Community officers in purple shirts spend their day moving on the homeless and calling in the police to move them if they don’t go. The contrast of the wealthy and the destitute upset me, in my mind there should be no excuse for not helping the homeless. A programme to give them a roof over their head and work to do in order to get them back on their feet should be a priority. Whatever I can do, I will do, whether that’s buying them a meal and a drink, getting them cigarettes or giving them some clothes or a blanket. I wish I had more money and energy because if I did I would volunteer and work with homeless projects, to do what I could to make a difference.

Our stay in Windsor was brief, I enjoyed it and it’s now marked off the list of places to visit. Our next trip will be to visit Bath and hopefully Stonehenge too. I have a brother I need to visit ~ he lives in Devon and it’s been 5 years since I saw him. Plus I need to see my sister who lives in France and has moved since I last saw her there, so I need to see her new pad. If we manage to visit them we will cross off a few more from our list ~ we hope to squeeze them in between now and Christmas.

Now home once again, dogs lying on top of me I can enjoy the memory of our trip and set up a plan for our next excursion. Learning how to pace (a ongoing process as I’m pretty useless at it right now) plus using support and mobility aids has opened my eyes and shown me that when you accept your disability you can then work around it when planning trips. I do need to get myself a key to get access to disabled toilets though, as when I’m out and about I’ve found many ladies loos are either up or down steps ~ and steps are not my friend.

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x~X~x

Vintage, slightly damaged but still fabulous.

Today my husband drove me to my face to face assessment for my PIP claim. To say I was nervous would be something of a understatement but having Dave by my side helped enormously.

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My appointment was at 8.10am, plus side, I was first in, but the minus was I had to get this knackered body up and dressed to be ready in time.

I was nervous, tired and in pain Dave parked directly outside the building, where Capita have their offices, in a well placed disabled bay. Utilising one of my crutches I managed to heave myself out of the car and hobble to the building. The lift was in front of us as we entered the building so we took it up to the 3rd floor.

The office was light and airy, which was nice. I sat down whilst Dave went to the reception to book in. We didn’t have to wait long, thankfully, as I was nodding off in my chair.

A pleasant looking woman called us in, it made me smile as she tried saying my surname in different ways trying to gauge by my reaction to see which was correct. I put her out of her misery with a smile and it broke the ice as we all chuckled about it.

Firstly we had to go through all my conditions, when diagnosed and who diagnosed me. As you can see there are a fair few, although I discounted the Hypermobility diagnosis as since being diagnosed I have stiffened up a lot and my Hypermobility is now limited to just a few joints..

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The assessment took a hour and a half, thankfully we had all  my paperwork with us and Dave being my career, helper & spokesperson answered for me when I stumbled. At the end I had to attempt a few movements of which a number I couldn’t do.

Finally she thanked me for coming and said I qualified for PIP but she couldn’t guarantee what DWP would do with her report once they received it but she had recommended I be awarded it. She also said that if I was refused my PIP for whatever reason that I should most definitely appeal it and that in her opinion I fully qualify.

So now it’s a case of wait and see. If I am awarded it I will be hiring a cleaner and dog walker. During my appointment I was also recommended to get OT to come into my home to assess and provide aids for my day to day.

I hope I don’t have to appeal but if it comes to it, with Daves support, we will go through that process and hope for a positive outcome.

Que será, será
Whatever will be, will be
The future’s not ours to see
Que será, será

x~X~x

Sorting It Out

I am currently in the process of sorting my life out.

This is a process, I’m not perfect ~ far from it and I know that with some changes I can improve my life, my outlook and my prospects.

I have a collection of invisible chronic illnesses which have changed my life and my ability to do the things I used to love to do. I refuse to give in to them and will not allow myself to withdraw from life and hope.

Yes, I have to adapt, change and rethink in order to accomodate what can or cannot be done. It is a ongoing and evolving process. I like to have answers to my  questions regarding my health and options of what can or cannot be done to improve my circumstances.

Step one was to sort my weight out. Different medications over the years have caused increased appetite and increased weight. This was left unchecked for too long and now I am having to stop and reverse the damage.

I am using hypnosis to help me lose the weight and it is really working. Plus the daily psitive affirmations are helping my mindset, encompassing everything in my life and not just my weight.

Today I saw a new Rheumatologist, my last one has retired. This appointment was to help me clarify which illnesses I actually do have and which I don’t. My GP has written I have Fibromyalgia and my old Rheumatologist said Hypermobility Ehlers~Danlos Syndrome to me but only wrote Hypermobility in my notes. My question is do I have Fibro or HEDS or both. I know for sure I have multiple allergies, TMJ, Diverticulitis, Depression and ME/CFS, they are confirmed several time over but the Fibro and HEDS diagnoses are not so clear.

The reason for the Rheumatologist appointment is for clarity, it is me wanting to find out what is causing the pain in my joints and muscles. Once I know what it is I can look to find ways to address it without harming my health any further.

As far as I am aware all my conditions are not cureable, that the only help is to have differing symptoms looked at and treated as and where possible.

My TMJ is helped by wearing a mouth guard at night to keep my jaw in alignment. On days when it decides to lock I have baby food, eating with a teaspoon and anti~inflammatories until it eases.

My depression is treated with the antidepressant Amitriptyline, I am aware that doctors try to use other antidepressants and like to avoid Amitriptyline as apparently it comes with a high risk of suicidal thoughts. For me though, after trying all the others and discovering they were ineffective at treating my depression they finally agreed to give me Amitriptyline.  I am on it long term because with the anti~depressants the depression wellies back into my life. I have suffered from this since my late teens

The Diverticulitis is treated by me taking daily sachets of Laxido 2~3 times a day, it keeps my stools soft (tmi?) and mobile and prevents them stagnating in the pouches and becoming infected. Thankfully by preventing contipation through taking this medication I have managed to stave off further, very painful, flare ups and not needed anymore antibiotics.

I have multiple allergies, to quote the Rheumatologist reading my hospital records ~ “ah, you are literally allergic to almost everything then!” These allergies are managed by clearing out the house of almost everything, taking daily antihistamines and using topical steroid cream. Last ditch treatment if allergy rashes don’t go is steroids.

My ME/CFS is not treatable as such, there is no cure. What I can do to help myself is to focus on planning, preparing and pacing. If I limit my acitivity in order to not crash and bring on a relpase and plan my days I can try and avoid the boom and bust cycle. I have to admit though that I am pretty rubbish at pacing ~ I still have a lot to learn and must acknowledge that there at times when crutches are necessary in order to do what I want to do. Accepting the use of mobility aids and supports is a tough one for me, I feel like I have failed in managing to keep my body healthy and strong. However, with the use of the hypnotherapy, I am not only losing weight but I am also learning to love and accept myself and my limitations. It isn’t my fault, my life could be so much worse and I am grateful for what I do have. This picture helps explain energy use for us spoonies ~ that we have to plan how we expend our energy in order to keep ourselves balanced to be stable between the perilous boom and bust cycle.
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My new Rheumatologist was lovely and exceptionally thorough ~ a full 2 hours for the appointment instead of the 1 hour allocated. I was poked, prodded, examined, asked to perform numerous tasks (of which some I failed spectaularly). The end result, yes I am hypermobile but stiffening up but more importantly I am officially diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, bursitis of both hips, inflamation and fluid retention of ankles, needing Achilles heel treatments as very tight and sore. I also have weakness in one side and am more painful on the other ~ additional pain on the one side attributed to compensating for the weak side ~ oh and also I have flat feet!

Long story short ~ I am being referred for specialist physiotherapy treatment over the long term:~

  • First working on relieving and treating the bursitis of both hips and Achilles in both feet. Apparently there is some treatment they use with ultrasound which has replaced steroid injections ~ so will update on that once I know exactly what it is and how it works.
  • Then working on the weakness in the one side.
  • Once the weak side is equal to the other side to then work on both sides of my body.
  • Strengthening my core, glutes and something else (I forgot!).
  • Wearing arch supporting trainers ~ I kid you not, she told me to throw my footwear in the bin, buy two pairs of arch supporting trainers which don’t hurt my Achilles (so high tops then) and wear one around the house and the other for going “out” in ~ oh my how sexy will I look? Walking barefoot around the house is apparently a no no, I have to wear my “at home” trainers whilst at home.

On the plus side she was uber impressed by my calf muscles ~ they are sold like steel and she kept prodding and laughing at them saying how cool they are ~ I aim to please. It most likely that my calf muscles have developed due to compensating and taking all my weight somehow by the way I walk (I roll my feet in too).

Anyhow ~ in the near future I shall be meeting and becoming very familiar with a physiotherapist ~ poor soul.

Sometimes its good to know what is wrong, to have your pain validated ~ I am not imagining it. I now have hope for eventually have less pain. I apparently may never be pain free but at least it will be reduced to improve my quality of life. It will take time and I have to take painkillers before each session in order to be able to take the treatment without having to tap out.

So the future is brighter with the knowledge that things can be done. Pain relief can be tweaked, inflammation eased, fluid removed and weakness strengthened.

This deserves some celebration and my lovely Dave has bought some Chablis for me tonight.

My husband was with me throughout the appointment, supporting me, helping me explain due to t he doctor due to my cognitive issues as I get muddled and listening so he can remind me when I left the appointment what was said.

I hope this weekend brings you all something good, something positive. I will be reading up on ways I can try to ease pain prior to treatment starting and celebrating the small things, the good things, the important things.

x~X~x

Meet Manson

I have a new car, I fell in love with it on first sight, which surprised me as it’s not something I had ever seriously considered owning.

i do hope people won’t find Manson offensive, to me it’s repurposing a car that would otherwise be left to rot. He really is beautiful and a gem to drive.

Manson is my new to me American 1993 Cadillac Brougham Hearse. It’s truly beautiful, I love it and am keeping it for the foreseeable future. Its automatic and surprisingly nippy and very comfortable. The front seats three people and I am toying with the idea of sourcing a original Cadillac bench seat to create a folding back seat to enable the whole family to travel in it ~ plenty of boot space!

The last owner must have owned a Halloween decoration shop because the Caddy was filled to the brim with spider, snakes, skulls, bats, you name it ~ it had it! To top it off it also had a terrible homemade coffin covered with glued on flies, maggots and fairy lights!

My first job was to empty out all the tat from the inside of the car, including the awful home made coffin. Next was the time consuming removal of all the tacky and offensive stickers pasted on the outside of all the windows. It took hours but it was worth it.

The next step ~ full valet inside and out. I needed someone who could remove all the transfered fake blood from the fake severed ankles etc onto the surface of the base of the inside of the back. I was also horrified to find that the hideous muslin stuff had been glued onto the fabric of the sides of the back.

Valetting done and the car is looking fantastic ~ all we need now is a real coffin in the back, a black one with chrome fittings and fixtures. That, like the folding back bench seat will be something that will happen one day in the future. We need to search and source just the right bench seat and coffin to ensure that it sits right with the car.

The installation of a coffin won’t be for macabre effect but for customers who want to hire the use of the car for photo or film ventures. We can then either hire it out with or without coffin depending on the needs of the customer.

So here he is now, all cleaned up for his first photo shoot..

To say I’m a happy bunny would be an understatement.

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x~X~x

My Dogs Make Me Happy

I love my dogs, they genuinely make me happy.

The power of dog therapy is awesome, no matter how I feel Taylor (Border Terrier) and Loki (Jack Russell Pug Cross) are there by my side.

When sad they lick away the tears, when happy they jump and wag their tails in joy. When unwell they literally guard me, sitting beside or on me to warm me with their warm comforting bodies.

When Skyla (Border Terrier) passed prematurely the two boys mourned her hard. Taylor was devoted to Skyla and they were exceptionally close. Loki had looked upon Skyla as a mother and she groomed him and cared for him as a mother would. Prior to Skyla passing the boys weren’t that close, she was the glue that kept their little pack together. Since her passing the boys started to comfort each other and interact differently than before. They started licking each other and huddling together when resting or sleeping. Now they become anxious if parted and so wherever possible we keep them together ~ if one needs to see the vet they both go.

Since Skyla both boys are now very anxious when I leave them for any length of time, they follow me everywhere when I come home, even to the toilet. If I sit down they sit on top of me to be sure I don’t move.

Seeing them play together makes my heart smile, the close bond they now have is heartwarming.  Watching them chase around the garden together makes me laugh ~ Loki runs rings around Taylor, he drop and rolls then gets up to run the other direction. My lovely Taylor isn’t the brightest dog, whereas Loki (my middle daughter Tasha’s dog) is a bright cookie.

These photos are of them playing yesterday…

x~X~x